Monday, February 5

Stretch me in prayer

Scripture: Exodus 21-22, Acts 12

Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Acts 12:14–15 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!”

Observation

Earnest prayer for Peter was made to God. The word “earnest” translates the Greek ektenes which literally means “to stretch out,” then “eager, earnest, fervent.” The idea is of one stretching oneself, pushing oneself in prayer—earnest and fervent.

No doubt earnest prayer had been made for James as well, which reminds us that we pray and leave the results to God.

But lest that discourage us and we are tempted to abandon our prayers or just go through the motions, this earnest prayer for Peter was answered dramatically and miraculously, reminding us that God hears our prayers and we should expect an answer.

Commenting on verses 14-15, where the praying Christians could not believe their prayers for Peter were answered, J.C. Ryle wrote this:

“We should cultivate the habit of expecting answers to our prayers. We should do like the merchant who sends his ships to sea. We should not be satisfied unless we see some return. Alas, there are few points on which Christians come short so much as this.”

Guilty as charged.

Like the Christians praying for Peter, I often don’t expect my prayers to be answered. 

Application

Two things.

First, pray fervently. Don’t just say prayers; “earnest” them. Stretch out in prayer. Push beyond your comfort zone. 

Second, expect God’s answer. “Cultivate the habit of expecting answers” to your prayers.

Prayer: Lord, forgive my lack of faith, and my subsequent lack of earnest prayer. Help me today to pray fervently and expect answers. Stretch me in prayer!